Monday, October 31, 2011

is indeed here - says this very mean looking and very large spider that was hanging outside our front door.

Guest Post: Spooky Sandwiches

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My friend Maia is a wonderful violinist and chef and writes the blog Sweet Alchemies where she combines her love to cooking with her love of music.  Today she is guest posting with some ghostly monte christo sandwiches for the upcoming holiday.  Thanks Maia!
Halloween is big in our house. Last year around this time, my husband had been traveling extensively for work. He had Halloween night free, however, and flew all the way back to LA just to spend it with me and our friends at a small gathering at our place. Naturally, I had to make the journey worth his while from a culinary standpoint. I spent every spare moment of the three days leading up to pumpkin day preparing an elaborate feast that would have made Martha proud.
{Gumdrop toppers for "Devil's Food Cupcakes." Get it? Not sure what got into me last year...}
Everyone's favorite snack, by far, was the "Ghost of Monte Cristo" sandwich. As luck would have it, these babies were the simplest to prepare. I will not be outdoing myself to nearly the same extent this year; in fact, I've elected to have a potluck, to which my contribution will be a repeat of last year's standout offering.
Monte Cristo Sandwiches

(The "Ghost" Idea c/o Martha Stewart; the recipe, my own)

For two large sandwiches:

4 slices rich white bread (such as buttermilk or potato)

Two slices of swiss cheese

Two slices of Muenster cheese

Red currant jelly

Dijon mustard

2 slices of turkey sandwich meat

2 slices of ham sandwich meat

1 egg

Spalsh of milk

1/4 tsp salt

Powdered sugar to taste (optional)

Spread a thin layer of currant jelly on two slices of bread, and a thin layer of mustard on the remaining two slices. Put the swiss cheese on top of the jelly-coated bread and the muenster on top of the mustard-coated bread. Next, layer one slice of turkey on each jelly/swiss piece and one slice of ham on each mustard/muenster piece. Put the halves together and cut into the sandwich with the cookie cutter of your choice.
In a bowl big enough to dip the sandwich without ruining its shape, beat the egg well. Add a splash of milk and the salt and whisk again. Dip both sides of the sandwich in the egg mixture.

Butter your griddle and cook the sandwiches over medium heat for about 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Dust the sandwiches with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
For a musical pairing, enjoy Beethoven's "Ghost" Trio. The piece is so named for the simple reason that the music is incredibly haunting. It's extremely special to me personally, as it was the first piece of chamber music I performed live on the radio as a teenager. I'll never forget the experience of sharing such truly miraculous music onstage with my friends for an audience. The experience was instrumental in leading me to aspire toward not only being a violinist, but specifically a chamber musician. I hope you'll enjoy it even a fraction as much as I do.

Oh yeah... and Happy Halloween!
{Our pup, Poochini, in his costume last year}

Powder Room Finishing Touches

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A while back we had the parents-in-law come into town and paint the powder room. Then I installed a new pendant from World Market.  And most recently I put up some newly framed art. Slowly but surely, I've been trying to make the powder room into a little jewel box. 

Well, on my first day of maternity leave, I got into uber-productive / nesting mode and finally did what had been noodling in my head for a long while. We had some old Dwell Studio bedding that we'd used as a drapery behind our bed in our Brooklyn co-op.
Since the bedding had already been deconstructed and could no longer be used for its original purpose, I reconstructed it into a skirt for the powder room vanity and a shade for the window.  First off, for the shade mount, I measured the window interior width.  I drilled two pilot holes - one in each paint stirrer and then glued the two paint stirrers together with a hot glue gun.
 Next I measured and cut the fabric for the shade and skirt allowing room for hems, a pocket for the tension cable on the skirt and doubling the width on the skirt so that I had 200% fullness.
 Then I ironed down the hems and started sewing. I'm not super meticulous or exact- nothing special hem wise here, just a simple straight stitch. I was also super excited to find that my sewing machine is still in working order after having loaned it to a friend for an extended period.
Next I hammered a couple of nails into the sides of the vanity on the diagonal to attach a piece of tension wire (spring wire). Luckily this was easy since the previous owners had left a country-cottage looking vanity skirt, so I had both the wire already cut to size and the pilot holes for the nails
 String the wire through the pocket at the top of the skirt and voila!  Note, I did consider the borders on the bedding and utilized the original border at the bottom of the skirt and shade
To finish the shade I just hand stitched some pleats in the bottom to give it a roman shade feel (no need for an actual functioning shade in here).  I then hot glued the finished shade to the paint stirrers and screwed it into the window frame from the bottom.  I wanted a sort of relaxed roman shade look but the weight of the center of the shade pulled the sides in and created some light gaps - not very tailored looking. Luckily I had a random dowel laying around (no idea what I had purchased it for), so I cut it down to size and inserted it into the bottom pleats which gave it a bit more rigidity.
Shhh.... I know, I shouldn't be cutting this dowel with our nice kitchen knives.
 And the final product.  Not bad for a morning's work while 9 months pregnant!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bryan Zhi-hui Davis
Thursday Oct 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm
6lbs 13 oz (although he's already over 7 now)
21 inches long

So you can disregard my post from last Friday - that was a pre-scheduled one and hadn't gotten a chance to stop it from posting.

Master Bedroom Drapery Options

I've been contemplating doing stationary drapery in our bedroom for a while.  Everything is so rectilinear in that room.  You enter and you're greeted by two large rectangular chinoiserie panels flanking a rectangular  / almost square window.  Rectangular bed, rectangular headboard, rectangular dressers, rug etc. The room clearly needs some softening.  That said, we have roller shades on the windows that are quite effective, so I didn't want to spend a whole bunch of money getting custom blackout draperies made and rods cut to size.  I apologize for the ugly fan smack dab in front of the window, but that's the reality.  Last week it was 94 degrees in LA and we had already put away the portable AC units for the winter.
So here is my simple solution.  I purchased these simple cotton panels from Pottery Barn on sale along with these adjustable rods from Target which I'm going to dry brush gold over top to give an antique brass look (there is enough black in the room and I wanted to pick up the gold in the frames and on the headboard nailheads and brass wall art on the other two walls).  I'm usually not a fan of adjustable rods, but my windows are close to the minimum / smaller size of the size range so there will be very little of the thinner part of the rod showing and much more dimensional stability.
Here's what they will look like up (thanks to a little Photoshop). We will probably live with them for a while like this. At some point I want to paint a pattern on the draperies to add interest.  I think living with them white for a while will help us decide what sort of pattern we want, and realistically, I won't have time to do any pattern painting before the baby arrives.  I'm thinking something geometric to contrast with the organic pattern of the chinoiserie panels.
The first option is to do a wide awning stripe. I like the graphic black and white, but Scott thought it was a bit too severe and suggested grey.
Or perhaps a diagonal stripe of some sort.
Or the ubiquitous chevron? I actually really like this option, but the question of course is: Is it too trendy? Will everyone tire of this in the next 6 months?
What are your thoughts?

Only in Cali

Monday, October 24, 2011

I think the last time I posted about the progress of our yard was around May and before that in March.  I can't say I've done much except for the recent planting of a few annuals and veggies. But boy do things really grow in California! This is the second summer for our hopseed bushes and they have truly doubled in size.  Check out the progress.

Last Year
In March this year
And then in May
Now (apologies for the ugly green patio furniture covers, but they make maintenance a snap)

One more week

Friday, October 21, 2011

Well, I decided to ditch Friday Filaments this week and give you a little preview of TBD.  Here is "the bump" 1 week until due date.  Playing around again with my not-so-new camera and tripod.  I'm loving this maternity dress I got from Gap Maternity.  So comfy - it feels like wearing a sack.  Perhaps it looks a bit like a sack in this photo, but I think it's more flattering in person. 

Stylish Boy's Room

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Even though TBD's nursery is pretty much done (and is actually more done than any other room in the house), I'm still inspired whenever I see great designs for kid's rooms.  Chassity over at Look Linger Love had a great series of guest designers do concept boards for her new baby's nursery and I figured I'd try my hand at one just for the heck of it.  Heck, maybe one of you dear readers will want to take this concept and run with it. 
Century Crib from Giggle.com
Toy Car from OK Store
Willow Wallpaper in Cider by Fromental
Sailor + Regatta Yellow crib bedding by Unison Home
Large Cowhide Pouf by Lawson Fenning
Archive Credenza by CB2 (used as changing table)
Hans Wegner Rocker from ModHaus
Ikat woven baskets from West Elm
Faux Bois area rug by Martha StewartRight Whale Archival Print by United Thread
Yellow Benjamin Pendant from Barn Light Electric
Fea Bea Blue Creature by UglyDoll

Baby's Room Sneak Preview

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Here is an update on the progress of the baby's room. We've added a little lamp / nightlight and some book ledges from IKEA as well as the great mobile that Jeff and Jane gave us.  On the wall above the dresser / changing table we did a little art collection with a batik wall hanging, our bunny art (just one more to go!), dad's monkeys on machines charcoal drawings, and a lovely little duckling from our friends at Soho Myriad.  Only need to add TBD's handprint mold to the one little blank space.  And of course the Etsy bedding that I ordered.  Can't wait for it to be complete (and interestingly, it will actually be the most "done" room in the house).


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This past weekend, Scott and I visited the newest restaurant to open up on York in Highland Park, Maximiliano. It's just east of the York, HP's great gastropub and is on a stretch of street not particular hipster-ified or trendy.  Started by Andre Guerrero the mind behind Max in Sherman Oaks and the insanely popular Oinkster in Eagle Rock, Maximiliano claims to be "kinda old school Italian".  I would say, it does the job.

Saturday was the second day it was open. It took a bit of convincing to get Scott to go since restaurants usually have a lot of kinks to iron out in their first week. Maximiliano, though, had a laid back vibe. Our waiter was chill and recommended some great beers and even had Scott sample them gratis.  We started with a porcini muschroom rissoto, and baked fennel and moved on to the Bianca-Verde pizza with preserved lemon. All were delicous and served piping hot (Scott's only comment was that the crust on the pizza could have been thinner).  For dessert we had the olive oil ice cream with sea salt carmel which was surprisingly smooth and subtle (we were a bit skeptical after a mishap with some parmesan ice cream I'd tried to make a few years back, but this was delicious).
 There was a nice variety of patrons - families, hipsters etc. The decor was simple but well thought out - graphic, slightly industrial.  And the menu was similarly refined - classic, easy to read and well priced.  I always love seeing new restaurant concepts come into my neighborhood.  Can't wait to see the back patio when they have it completed and bring the babe there for family meals once he is restaurant-ready.

Ruby Yams

Monday, October 17, 2011

Last week I received some Ruby Yams in my Farm Fresh To You CSA box.  One of the best and worst things about being part of a CSA is receiving veggies that you've never prepared before and being forced to figure out a fun and delicious way to eat them.  I combined these with some carrots that we also got, chopped them up and roasted them with garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano from the garden. A little sea salt on top made for a delicious fall-flavored treat.
Caveat - trying to play around with focal lengths on my camera only semi successfully (the one drawback of it not being the traditional bulky SLR). Hopefully I will get the hang of it one of these days.

Friday Filaments

Friday, October 14, 2011

A fun addition to a room. Reminds me a lot of the Novogratzs and their love of light boxes and letters.

Urban Outfitters Marquee Alphabet Light. 

Speaking of Urban - they have some great bedding and drapery right now. For the prices of their duvet sets, you could buy them and reconstruct them into pillow shams, upholstery for benches and dining chairs etc.  Options abound for repurposing with the prices so low.

Fall Florals and Flavors

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This weekend we did a little fall planting.  I filled some potswith the requisite pansies and mums and a purple groundcover.  The newly populated planters add some great color to the stoop which otherwise had been occupied by spider web infested dead plantings (perhaps should have kept those for Halloween). I can't help myself - perhaps it's the nesting instinct. I just love ringing in the new season with colorful plants and new veggies. Since the flax lining our walk had since bit the dust, I used the extra pansies in the flower bed (for those of you worried about me gardening at 9+ months pregnant, I made Scott do the bed plantings so I could just sit on the stoop to do the planters). Can't wait to see how everything fills in.
 We also ripped out the heirloom tomatoes and put in some arugula and chard.  Having experienced the forest of arugula we got last year, we decided it was probably best to use the tomato cages that we had from the summer to keep the plants from toppling over when they get top heavy.  And they are nice sculptural bamboo, so they add an architectural element to the garden.
I know - the chard looks really pathetic at the moment, but I'm confident that they will grow to be large and robust.